PSYCH 187 (Research Design, Implementation, and Communication in Cognitive Development) is an upper-level undergraduate seminar in the Psychology department at Stanford in which students learn how experiments are designed and run using children as participants. Children, as a participant population, pose their own challenges—comprehension, compliance, and attention span, among others—and, through the course, we came to understand how this young population, despite its difficulties, helps us understand some of the most fascinating parts of human cognition.
As a student in the class I developed my own study to look into a topic of personal interest relating to developmental psychology: sound production. I was interested in taking a step into looking at how children can train to produce novel sounds in words they haven’t heard before, especially in different learning conditions. Specifically, literature shows that children learn knowledge-based content (like Math, Science, etc.) faster when preparing to teach that material than when preparing to take a test. I was wondering if this extended to more skill-based content like speech.
To evaluate this, I developed a study (including creating all the stimuli and wiritng a mock-IRB), ran it on thirty 4- and 5- year old children, and analyzed the results. I then presented these results to the Social Learning Lab at Stanford and to full-time researchers at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. Attached is the final paper I wrote for the course and a brochure I handed out to parents as their child participated to give them more information about both the class and my study.